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NHL Skinny: High-Flying Flyer

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GOALIE HOT SEAT
BOSTON BRUINS RED HOT
1st Chair: Hannu Toivonen
2nd Chair: Andrew Raycroft
Skinny: More changes are probably on the way for the Bruins. The Boston Herald Thursday speculated that several Bruins could be on the move, including Raycroft and former 40-goal scorer Glen Murray. After apparently losing the No. 1 job to Toivonen, Raycroft made back-to-back starts to end the week. Showcase starts? Raycroft was solid, but so was Toivonen the last time he started, a 2-1 overtime loss last Monday.
COLORADO AVALANCHE RED HOT
1st Chair: Vitaly Kolesnick
2nd Chair: David Aebischer, Peter Budaj
Skinny: Aebischer's first start in nearly two weeks was cut short Saturday when he allowed his fifth goal early in the third period. "He wasn't very good," coach Joel Quenneville told the Denver Post. "He didn't help himself." Aebischer has allowed nine goals in just over three periods this month. Kolesnick was back in net Sunday, making 29 saves in a 2-1 win over the Rangers. He has won three of his five starts and will, barring a trade, get a long look from the Avs.
NEW YORK RANGERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Henrik Lundqvist
2nd Chair: Kevin Weekes
Skinny: After a four-day break in the schedule, the Rangers turned to Weekes Sunday against Colorado. He stopped 15 of 17 shots in a 2-1 loss. Since coach Tom Renney still employs a 1-1a goalie rotation, it should be no surprise that Weekes has started two of three for the Rangers. Lundqvist remains the better fantasy option. In his past four starts, the rookie has two wins, a 1.75 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
ATLANTA THRASHERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Michael Garnett
2nd Chair: Kari Lehtonen
Skinny: Now might be a good time to make that under-the-radar pickup and sign Lehtonen. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the rookie goalie will participate in a full practice Monday and plans to return to game action shortly after Christmas. Lehtonen has not played since he injured his groin on opening day. His return comes just as Atlanta has picked up its play. The Thrashers have captured nine out of a possible 10 points in their past five games.
BUFFALO SABRES RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Biron
2nd Chair: Ryan Miller
Skinny: Coach Lindy Ruff isn't too high on juggling goalies. Miller started the first 10 games of the season before injuring his thumb. Since then, Biron has started 20 of 23 games. Miller is ready to return after splitting two games during an AHL conditioning assignment. So what does Ruff do now? One thing he doesn't do is bench Biron, who extended his own team record by winning his 13th straight start Saturday. There is sentiment, however, that Biron should be traded while his value is high and teams like Vancouver and Colorado are desperate for help. Record streak or not, Miller is the goalie of the future in Buffalo.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS HOT
1st Chair: Marc Andre-Fleury
2nd Chair: Joceyln Thibault
Skinny: Fleury made 23 saves Saturday to earn his first win since Nov. 16. Though far from spectacular, the 21-year-old has allowed more than three goals only once in eight starts. Thibault, on the other hand, has yielded four or more eight times in 10 starts. He had a shot Thursday when Fleury was sidelined by an intestinal ailment, but five shots escaped him in a 5-0 home loss to Minnesota. Fleury is a free agent to watch if Pittsburgh can ever get its offense energized.
LOS ANGELES KINGS HOT
1st Chair: Mathieu Garon
2nd Chair: Jason LaBarbera
Skinny: Nice rebound for Garon. Wednesday he was so ill that coach Andy Murray wouldn't allow him in the team's practice facility. LaBarbera started that night in a 3-2 loss to Washington. Garon bounced back to not only return Friday, but make starts on consecutive nights. In his past three starts, Garon is 3-0 with just five goals allowed on 107 shots. Murray still hasn't declared a No. 1 goalie, and may not this year, but Garon is a solid fantasy option available in roughly 20 percent of leagues.
EDMONTON OILERS HOT
1st Chair: Michael Morrison
2nd Chair: Jussi Markkanen, Ty Conklin
Skinny: Conklin didn't dress Saturday, but developments on the ice may have boosted his value. Morrison got the start against the Canucks, but was pulled just seven minutes in after allowing two goals. Markkanen came in and played well, but the Oilers would eventually lose 5-4 in overtime. Conklin had stopped 43 of 47 shots earlier in the week while starting consecutive games. Coach Craig MacTavish continues to say he'll juggle three goalies until a clear-cut No. 1 emerges. Cue the circus music.
ST. LOUIS BLUES HOT
1st Chair: Jason Bacashihua
2nd Chair: Curtis Sanford, Chris Beckford-Tseu, Reinhard Divis
Skinny: With Sanford on the IR with a hip injury and Patrick Lalime exiled to the AHL, St. Louis' goalie situation has deteriorated into chaos. Bacashihua made his first NHL start Saturday and allowed four goals in a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia. Beckford-Tseu arrived just in time to serve as backup. Divis has been recalled from Peoria of the AHL, but must clear re-entry waivers before joining the Blues. Nobody is really sure who will start Tuesday at Phoenix.
DETROIT RED WINGS WARM
1st Chair: Chris Osgood
2nd Chair: Manny Legace
Skinny: Legace said he wouldn't hurry back, and he wasn't kidding. After coming back too soon once, the goalie plans to wait until his groin is 100 percent before stepping back onto the ice. Osgood has won four of five December starts, but has not been spectacular enough to hold off Legace once he's ready to go.
If you're an Eric Staal owner, do you want your guy making the Canadian Olympic team? Both the U.S. and Team Canada will announce rosters this week. Staal, the league's ninth-leading scorer with 44 points, is actually considered a long shot to make Team Canada. Personally, I'd be fine with that. Rather than lugging the weight of a country around for two weeks in Italy, I'd like to see my guys get some rest and then come back with a chip on their shoulder. There will be plenty of second guessing over the course of this week, but before that let's take a look at the weekend that was:

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

Injuries have forced Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock to shuffle his lines lately. One of these hastily assembled trios earned The Skinny's line of the week honors. Peter Forsberg centered Mike Knuble and Sami Kapanen Saturday, and that unit combined for two goals and four assists in a 5-2 win over St. Louis. Just two nights earlier, Kapanen registered a two-point night and Knuble scored a goal in a 5-4 loss to Vancouver.

The intriguing guy here is Kapanen. Forsberg and Knuble are studs, but each is owned in nearly every Yahoo! league. Kapanen, on the other hand, didn't play his first game this season until late November. He was owned in fewer than 10 percent of leagues as of Sunday morning. Top-line ice time is a huge bonus. Kapanen logged 20-plus minutes on three straight nights while extending his scoring streak to seven points in five games. Simon Gagne's return will create more shuffling, of course, but Kapanen has proven he can perform with one of the team's top two units.

Thank you to the many readers who pointed out a hidden reason why Roberto Luongo remains owned in nearly 100 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Sure there's the talent and those persistent trade rumors, but what The Skinny failed to take into account last week was that Luongo remains on the Can't Cut List. This begs another question, of course? Why in the world is a goalie who lost 14 of 17 starts still considered undroppable? The answers are the same – talent and potential. And there's also the fact that Luongo is back on top of his game.

In case you missed the highlights, Luongo put forth a superhuman effort Sunday, stopping 53 shots as Washington fired a team-record 55 volleys his direction. It was his third win in four starts and fifth overall this month. With the entire team struggling, Luongo won only one game in all of November. His .916 save percentage in December ranks among the league leaders. Now wouldn't be a bad time to put together a package in hopes of trading for the 26-year-old goalie.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • Francois Beauchemin, D, Ana
    Since arriving in Anaheim in the Sergei Fedorov deal, Beauchemin has two goals and seven assists. Fedorov has only five points since joining the Blue Jackets. The comparison isn't fair, of course, since Columbus has struggled mightily on offense with top sniper Rick Nash out of action. Beauchemin, on the other hand, has had plenty of support, namely a defense partner by the name of Scott Niedermayer. In 11 games as the reigning Norris Trophy winner's partner, the rookie has nine points and a plus-6 rating.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Michel Ouellet, RW, Pit – A top-15 scorer in the American Hockey League, Ouellet joined the Penguins when Michel Therrien was promoted to head coach. In two games with Pittsburgh, Ouellet has two goals and one assist.

Ales Kotalik, RW, Buf – Buffalo's streak of 14 wins in 16 games hasn't been all about goaltending. Kotalik has seven goals and six assists in those 16 games, a run that includes two goals and five assists in his past five.

Kurtis Foster, D, Min – He scored the game-winner Saturday to snap a streak of seven games without a goal. The 6-foot-5 rookie defenseman also had two assists in Thursday's loss to Boston.

Patrik Elias, LW, NJ – Elias will begin practicing with the Devils as early as this week, the Newark Star-Ledger reported Sunday. No telling how strong he'll be after recovering from hepatitis A, but New Jersey is anxious to get its leading scorer (81 points in 82 games) from 2003-04 back in the lineup.

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pit – Fleury's play has been the least of Pittsburgh's problems of late. He has made six starts in December, posting a .911 save percentage.

Henrik Sedin, C, Van – The least-popular Sedin twin (owned in only 16 percent of leagues), Henrik has one goal and nine assists in six December games. Linemate Anson Carter has also been sizzling.

Chris Campoli, D, NYI – His goal Saturday extended his point streak to five games (2 goals, 3 assists).

Robert Esche, G, Phi – Esche re-injured his groin Thursday and will be shut down for at least two weeks. Antero Niittymaki gets the call again. A solid short-term goalie option, he has a .927 save percentage in five December starts.

Scott Gomez, C, NJ – Both Gomez and Alexander Mogilny were benched for most of Saturday's loss to Carolina. According to the New York Post, Gomez may be on the trading block.

Ian Laperriere, RW, Col – A nice scoring run generated some fantasy buzz, but the Avs forward has been held without a point in eight straight games. Worse, his five penalty minutes have hardly been enough to offset his minus-8 rating.

Jeremy Roenick, RW, LA – Speaking of scoring slumps, Roenick was held without a point for his eighth straight game Saturday. At least he's seeing the ice, which is more than left wing Luc Robitaille can say. He's been a healthy scratch in back-to-back games.

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